Becoming a Physician Associate

In the NHS Careers video below three physician associates talk about their career and the difference they make to people’s lives.

The NHS Careers infographic below show key information for people considering a career as a Physician Associate.

NHS Careers Physician associate infographic

Physician associate training usually lasts two years, with students studying for 46-48 weeks each year.

Although it involves many aspects of an undergraduate or postgraduate medical degree, the training focuses principally on general adult medicine in hospital and general practice, rather than specialty care.

Training will include significant theoretical learning in the key areas of medicine. There will also be 1,600 hours of clinical training, taking place in a range of settings, including 350 hours in general hospital medicine.  You’ll also spend a minimum of 90 hours in each of the following:

  • community medicine
  • front door (including experience in emergency medicine)
  • mental health
  • general surgery
  • obstetrics and gynaecology
  • paediatrics (acute setting)

Physician associates have to meet a nationally approved standard of training and practice. This is a requirement of the competence and curriculum framework for physician associates as laid down by the Faculty of Physician Associates.

A 4-year integrated Master of Physician Associate Studies is now running at the University of Central Lancashire and the University of Reading.

You will usually need a bioscience-related first degree to get onto one of the training programmes available.

Two undergraduate integrated Master of Physician Associate Studies programmes are now available. These courses require A-levels or equivalent for entry.

Alternatively, if you are a registered healthcare professional such as a nurse, allied health professional or midwife you can also apply to become a physician associate.

Use the NHS Careers course finder to view a list of universities offering Physician Associate degrees in the North West.

A level 7 apprenticeship standard for physician associates has been approved for delivery. To get onto an apprenticeship, you will need to apply for an apprentice position with a health care provider. You can search for vacancies on the NHS Jobs website and Find an Apprenticeship website

Most jobs in the NHS are covered by the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay scales which cover all staff except doctors, dentists and the most senior managers. Physician associates will usually start on AfC band 7. Many posts are internships which can be band 6.

With further training and/or experience, you may be able to develop your career further and apply for vacancies in areas such as further specialisation, management, research, or teaching.

It is recommended that all physician associates register on the Physician Associate Managed Voluntary Register (PAMVR).

The Faculty of Physician Associates and the UK and Ireland Universities Board for PA Education (UKIUBPAE) also recommend employers make this a compulsory criterion for employment.

The aim of the profession is to have statutory registration in the future and work is underway to facilitate this.